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Editor’s Picks From Around the Web
CA: After two-year delay, construction on California’s bullet train set to start
Over the last two years, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has prevailed in a series of court challenges to the project, won a federal exemption from state environmental rules, secured several key legislative victories that improved its future funding and made a politically savvy bet to move up by several years the inauguration of service in Southern California.
US: Speed camera backlash has towns scraping for cash
Municipalities that installed traffic cameras to boost revenue are scraping for cash to fill budget gaps after complaints by irate drivers forced them to cancel their use.
IA: Big-ticket commitments pose Iowa budget challenges
State lawmakers will consider a 2016 state budget that carries built-in and anticipated spending increases projected at nearly million this year.
MO: Ferguson could set tone for Missouri legislative session
The Ferguson protests in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting will come up in several bills in the Missouri Legislature this year.
OK: Oklahoma’s budget hole could lead to greater scrutiny of tax incentives
A looming million budget hole may lead to greater scrutiny of the .7 billion the state gives away each year on tax credits, incentives and exemptions.
KY: Kentucky lawmakers face competing proposals to deal with heroin epidemic
One proposal is expected to include a provision that would allow needle exchanges, an approach favored by public health officials trying to ward off the spread of hepatitis or HIV, but abhorred by conservatives not willing to appear soft on crime.
NE: Prison reform will consume heaps of time and energy this session
Nebraska lawmakers will address the scandals in the prison system this session.
WA: Stalled Seattle tunnel plan leaves state and local plans mired
Knee-deep in political muck as Seattle’s highway tunnel drilling machine remains underground awaiting repairs, leaders are choosing their words carefully, some standing firm, others avoiding questions or pondering possibilities for a Plan B.
ND: North Dakota program seen by some as big city tool now has many smaller communities signing on
A number of North Dakota cities, both small and large, have created zones with property and income tax incentives aimed at spurring investments and increasing the tax base.
TX: Prospects for Texas tax cuts dim as oil price drops
A year-ending plunge in oil prices has led to downsized expectations of how much tax relief the GOP-controlled legislature and top Republican leaders will be able to deliver in their session beginning next week, business leaders and key lawmakers say.
VA: Former Virginia governor ruminates on a career gone awry
In the strange four months of enforced limbo that have separated former Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell’s corruption conviction from his much-anticipated sentencing Tuesday, he has in some ways presided over an extended wake for his once-promising political and personal future.
MA: Environmentalists face tough sell for carbon tax
Environmentalists got what they wanted last month with the release of a state study that lays the intellectual groundwork for a multibillion dollar “carbon tax” on fossil fuels blamed for accelerating climate change. But the hard part is persuading skeptical lawmakers that raising gasoline and heating oil prices by about 27 cents a gallon is the right thing to do.
OH: Governor will look to oil and gas severance tax, keep expanded Medicaid
Republican Gov. John Kasich is likely to pursue a severance tax on oil and gas, stick with expanded Medicaid and rein in poorly performing charter schools this year.
ID: Education, roads will dominate legislative session
Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s education task force recommendations for reforms in public education and a backlog of road and bridge maintenance in Idaho will be at the top of the agenda for state lawmakers this session.
SD: Look out, Delaware: Here comes South Dakota
South Dakota’s new secretary of state has plans to make the state a haven for business incorporation as Delaware does.
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